Working on Waxes
I've been working very intensely and didn't realize how long it's been since I posted last.

The very small carving of the Irish setter is close to done. The challenge of making a double bas-relief is challenging. The position of the legs and body have to work on both sides even though it's not 3 dimensional. Although I am creating the illusion of 3 dimensions.

I'm really looking forward to World Fantasy. I'm designing a pendant for it to commemorate its 40th year. I've been working on a group of designs for it, including a ring and a pendant set with delicate green garnet crystals and a stunning botryoidal opal design as a pendant.

I've been spending a lot of time at my wax bench in the last 10 days.

Gingko Leaves and Gastropods
I've been working on a design for a large cabochon of gastropod fossils (the oldest gastropods existed 500 million years ago.) They are a very large group of snail like creatures. You can see a variety of complex shell forms in the stone. It's a Lloyd Eshbach stone and is exquisitely cut.

I posted earlier abut wanting to design some work with leaves from the ginkgo tree. The ginkgo is a living fossil, with fossils recognizably related to modern ginkgo from the Permian, dating back 270 million years. The gastrodpod cabuchon seemed perfect. Since there are a group of the trees in my neighborhood I was able to go out and pick some leaves. It's great when I can work from life rather then photos.

I've designed it with three curving Gingko leaves. And I will post a photo after I've completed it.

I'm also working on a very small double bas-relief of an Irish setter for a pair of jade earrings that I'll write more about later this week.

I'm having a very good week for art.

Finally OK
The bug I caught while doing the prep for the exhibition LGBT Art: Our Common Wealth at the Commonwealth Club Gallery in San Francisco took way to long to get rid of. But it was finally gone a few days ago!

So I am feeling superb and working especially happily on waxes. Including a pair of opal and tiny diamond earrings in gold with raised gold balls and an African patterned malachite in a twisted sculptural setting.

I should have the final work from the Nasfic out by the end of next week.

And hopefully I'll have lots of new work to write about.

Visit to the Sojourner Truth Archive
When I went to the Nasfic I also got to have a marvelous visit to the Sojourner Truth archive in Battle Creek.  And had some related _really_ good experiences in Detroit.  This post is about the archive but I'll be writing about the rest of  my experiences.

Still not completely over  this bug but very close.

I wrote about discovering Sojourner Truth's cartes-de-visite in my post " Sojourner Truth: I Sell The Shadow To Support The Substance."

I came across the first mention of the cartes-de-visite in a video interview with Nell Painter, who has written a superb biography of Truth which I highly recommend.

Painter mentioned on the video that Sojourner Truth had used photography. Of course, that immediately registered with me and I had to find out more. As a photographer I immediately assumed that she had taken photographs. But when I did some reading, I learned about the cartes-devisite that she created. Because she was not literate this was the only medium where she had complete control of her presentation.

... Sojourner Truth was perhaps the most famous African-American woman in 19th century America. For over forty years she traveled the country as a forceful and passionate advocate for the dispossessed, using her quick wit and fearless tongue to fight for human rights.

Nell Painter says: No other woman who had gone through the ordeal of slavery managed to survive with sufficient strength, poise and self-confidence to become a public presence over the long term.

… Sojourner Truth, according to the Willis/Krauthamer book Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans And the End of Slavery, understood the power of photography, and actively distributed photographs of herself:

“Those pictures were meant to affirm her status as a sophisticated and respectable “free woman and as a woman in control of her image.” The public’s fascination with small and collectible card-mounted photographs, allowed her to advance her abolitionist cause to a huge audience and earn a living through their sale. “I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance,” proclaimed the famous slogan for these pictures."

Quotes are from the previous post.

As I read her biography I was reminded again and again what is lost in the simplified potted histories of social change and reform that most of us learn. She was born in slavery in up-state New York, grew up speaking Dutch, was emancipated when New York ended slavery, and spent as much of her life promoting religion and spiritualism as abolition and suffrage. She is stereotypically depicted as saying "Ain't I a Woman" with a southern accent. (She never said it.) Her life, and 19th century America, were complicated.

Serendipitously, my friend Geri Sullivan read my post and wrote that she would be in Detroit at the same time I planned to be there in July. And she was going to her home town of Battle Creek on the trip. She knew Mary Butler at the Sojourner Truth Archive in Battle Creek and we could go there. I was amazed and delighted! (The archive is in Battle Creek because Truth lived there in the latter part of her life.)

The archive was planning to reframe their carte-de-visite's of Sojourner Truth. Because I was coming they very thoughtfully kept them unframed until I visited. I was able to (carefully) hold them and photograph them. I looked at them in my hands and realized I was holding something that she might have held. I'm surprised my hands didn't shake.

We spent several hours at the archive. Mary Butler is profoundly knowledgeable about Truth and the radical political 19th century history of Battle Creek. She was very generous with her time and her knowledge. We talked and I was able to look at a number of both documents and copies of documents that give a shape to what I know about her life. It was a memorable afternoon and I'm grateful to both Mary and Geri.

These are the photographs I took of the cards.

sojourner truth1web_1358




I love this photograph. The portrait feels like I can see her face across time.

I'll be posting again about Battle Creek, Detroit, a remarkable sculpture of Truth, the Kimball House Museum and undoubtedly more.

Came back from Detroit to instant prep for a really wonderful exhibition "LGBT Art: Our Common Wealth" at the Commonwealth Club Gallery in San Francisco. (It's in downtown San Francisco. It's free and it runs til 9/21) The reception and artists' talk was great. The link to Body Impolitic about the show is here

But..then I came down with the inevitable overwork bug. I'm much improved but still getting over it.

Had an amazing experience at the Sojourner Truth archive in Battle Creek and Detroit was fascinating.

Will write about all this when I'm feeling better. Real soon now I hope.

Off in the Morning
Leaving in the morning. As always, bless my cat sitter.

I have 3 photos in the art show 2 of Bernadette Bosky from Women En Large (she's one of the guests of honor), and one of Samuel R. Delany from Familiar Men. His is the photo that was in the National Queer Arts Festival exhibition that closed recently.

I'm moderating the panel "Fat, Feminism and Fandom Revisited." How have things changed since fannish feminists and fat activists first started this panel series? What did it accomplish, within fandom and outside of it? Panelists are Rachael Acks, Arthur D. Hlavaty, Eva Whitley and Bernadette Bosky. It's pretty close to the 30th anniversary of the first panel that Debbie Notkin and I did in 1984 in Los Angeles.

Conversation will be about the history both in fandom and the larger world, and also very much about now.

I think I've mentioned that I'm going to be able to go to the Sojourner Truth Museum on Tuesday in Battle Creek and see the archive of her photographs. This started with this blog on Body Impolitic "Sojourner Truth: I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance" Geri Sullivan wrote that she might be able to have me see the archives and that's what happened!!

"Sojourner Truth, according to the Willis/Krauthamer book Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans And the End of Slavery, understood the power of photography, and actively distributed photographs of herself:

“Those pictures were meant to affirm her status as a sophisticated and respectable “free woman and as a woman in control of her image.” The public’s fascination with small and collectible card-mounted photographs, allowed her to advance her abolitionist cause to a huge audience and earn a living through their sale. “I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance,” proclaimed the famous slogan for these pictures."

I'll write about seeing the archive when I get back.

Still have boxes to rope and tape. Really looking forward to seeing folks in Detroit.

Detcon1: Hello I Must be Going
My boxes are mostly packed. The jewelry is finished and ready. It includes this sea shaped Baltic amber pendant. I got the amber when I was in Finland last year.

Size is about 1.75" and the setting is silver.  The design is a Ginkgo leaf.  About a block from where I live is a street with 22 Ginkgo Trees (Yes, I counted them.)  The design is based on a leaf from one of those trees. The Ginkgo is a living fossil recognizably related to the Ginkgos from the Permian dating back 270 million years. The amber is about 50 million years old so aside from the aesthetics of the design I love the idea that they were contemporary millions of years ago.

Ginkgo biloba fossil Eocene leaf from the McAbee, Canada.

The leaf below is a modern one not that's there is much difference.  They turn a stunning golden yellow in the fall.

ginkgo leaf

I've made an astonishing number of new rings that range from Peruvian opal to a fossilized gastropod cabochon.

I need to go back to work but I'll post tomorrow about my Fat Feminism and Fandom panel and my photos in the Art Show.

Photographs and Mythic Tiger
I'm getting my photographs ready for the Detroit art show. I'm bringing 2 photographs of Berndatte Bosky (who is one of the guests of honor) from Women En Large and the photo of Samuel R Delany from Familiar Men that was just in the National Queer Art Festival exhibition.

I'm polishing some earrings and small pendants right now and hopefully will be finished with them by tomorrow.

The group includes my mythic Japanese tiger pendant. There was long period of time when there were no tigers to see in Japan and the artist's prints of them are imagined in some excellent and somewhat alien ways. Geri Sullivan went to an exhibition of these prints a long time ago and gave me the catalog. It was the inspiration for this design. Coincidentally I bought a small figure of a tiger today that I think will end up as part of a photograph one of these days.

I'm thinking about a honeycomb black opal and starting to imagine designs.

Getting Ready for Detcon1
I just finished setting the stones for the rings for Detcon1. They include a stunning Lloyd Eshbach blue tiger eye, a Peruvian opal, and a brilliant peridot.

Also finished but not set is the Baltic water shaped amber. I love the textures and the shadows in it.

I'm also making a black silver dragonfly with yellow gold wings set with a small black opal and a faceted garnet. Faceted garnets make great dragonfly eyes.

Also getting three photographs ready for the art show. Two nudes of Bernadette Bosky (She's one of the guests of honor.) from my book "Women En Large: Images of Fat Nudes" and one of Samuel R. Delany from "Familiar Men: A Book of Nudes".

I'm becoming seriously frazzled but it will all get done. Staring to look forward to seeing everyone there. And I get to go to the Sojourner Truth Museum!! More about that later.

Forest From "The Wild Ways"
II'm now totally back and working hard for Detcon1 in July.  Very much back at my wax bench.

Just received 3 beautiful watermelon tourmalines that are blue and pink - very special.

I wrote earlier about having commissions for very different interpretations of the forest from Tanya Huff's "The Wild Ways".

The  one below is silver and clear rutilated quartz.  in addition to the  outside trees in the design, I also carved a forest grove behind the  stone.  I'd never done this kind of carving on a pendant.  It worked  even more beautifully then I hoped.  The photo is pretty good and I think  it gives a fine sense of the back carving.  I'm definitely going to do  another
carving behind a rutilated quartz - it's a concept I want to develop.

It's from the collection of Bayla Fine.

I just checked this for typos and it's really time for me to quit for the night.

You are viewing laurieopal